Young Jane – 4

So Jane joined the Land Army.  She was keen not to be looked on as a girlie, but as someone who could keep up with the men.  Land girls had the reputation of being afraid of cows, seeing every one as a potential bull, of squeaking at the sight of a carthorse or a bale of hay (heavier than straw, as I’m sure you know) and thinking that the job entailed the carefree scattering of corn to the chickens.  My mother (darlings, think me and you get my mother, only I don’t have the hang-ups … no, I’m quite normal and have no hang-ups ………. oi.  Shove it, darling) was pretty tough, in a charmingly feminine way and took a lot of pride in accomplishing anything that was thrown at her.

There were three horses on the farm she was sent to.  One was a carthorse, and I’m sorry to say that I can’t remember his name.  Wink might know and, if she tells me, I’ll let you know.  One was a regular horse.  The third was an ex-polo pony called Monsieur de Talleyrand, who could turn on the proverbial sixpence.  What he thought about farm work he kept to himself.  Jane could work with all of them.  The carthorse (I’m ashamed that I can’t remember his name: I want to say it’s Boxer, but of course that’s another story entirely) could pull a big cart of hay and my mother took pride in being able to steer him at speed through a gateway, only a few inches to spare either side.

She found it a tough life, for several reasons.  One was, of course, the physical hard work.  She was just under 5 foot 6 inches in height (appreciably taller than I have ever been) and slender, but took on as much as the men did.  Not that there were many men about at that time, most of them had been called up.

I’ve got several stories to tell you about her time in the Land Army and she did a good job, I don’t want to hurry it.  I’ve talked to women who were in the ATS and the – oh blimey, I don’t really do initials.  Women’s army, navy and air force.  Few of them worked as hard as my mother did, none of them as hard physically.  I admire her – but then I admire people who put their back into a job.  

10 comments on “Young Jane – 4

  1. Anonymous

    There was a lady on Antiques Roadshow a few years ago who brought on stuff she’d used when working as a lumber jill during the War.Seem to recall it was called something like the Lumber Army. Apparently the women in that branch(no pun intended)resented being considered Land Army. They apparently had never met Jane nor were aware of how hard she worked.

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  2. Z

    My mother wouldn’t have enjoyed cutting trees down, she’d have preferred growing food. I daresay the women’s forces looked down on the Land Army too, looked on them as labourers.

    Thank you, BW. No, didn’t see the programme. Since there have been freeview channels, every time I look it’s 20 programmes I don’t want to see and so I don’t bother and miss anything good.

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  3. mig

    Did the horses not get requisitioned?

    What an impressively tough minded young woman. I bet the men were quite keen to scare the land girls if they could (only joking of course) and it must have taken a lot of courage to get on with the work and a lot of hard sense to sort out the bullshit from the truth.
    Looking forward to hearing more.

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  4. Z

    I’m not sure if they were used much in active service in the 1940s? And they were needed on the farm, but maybe a shortage of horses was the reason a polo pony was doing farm work.

    Some years ago, I was told I was a very useful muck-spreader. It was meant as a compliment and so I took it – my mother’s daughter!

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  5. Compostwoman

    The OU leaflet is very informative as is “Wartime Farm” the book- as are all the three BBC books of the various series the three presenters have been involved with. – just a pity “Tales from the Green Valley” did not get a full on BBC book. IMO it was the very best of the lot!

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